Warren Beatty, Brett Ratner Recall Memories at Beverly Hills Hotel During 100-Year Celebration Weekend

2:58 PM PST 06/17/2012 by Bill Higgins
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Prince sneaks in nearly unseen as famous past and present guests celebrate the milestone by listening to Bill Cosby tell stories and playfully conduct a jazz band and enjoying a five-song set by Mary J. Blige.

During the weekend-long celebration for the Beverly Hills Hotel’s 100th anniversary, Warren Beatty demurred when asked for stories about living at the Pink Palace in his high-flying youth (“Are you kidding? I’m not going to tell you that”), while Brett Ratner had a pretty good one about staying in one of the bungalows for six months when one day -- independent of one another -- Bob Evans, Beatty and Michael Jackson dropped by. “I took a picture of them with my grandmother,” says Ratner. “It was great.”

Beatty also held his cards tight when asked how his next project, the biopic of Howard Hughes, was progressing. “No wine before its time,” said the actor-director.

The hotel’s celebration began Friday at an evening poolside party with 200 guests where Bill Cosby, who had been introduced by Carl Reiner, told stories before playfully conducting an 8-piece jazz band (the three-woman horn section were killer).

In the greenroom beforehand, Cosby talked casually about his early days in stand-up, recalled a comic he liked named London Lee (“He had bad jokes and an orange suntan”), spoke about how the late Sam Levenson was a school teacher by day and comic by night and quoted from a Steven Wright routine. “These days a kid can be a comedian at age 7,” said Cosby. “He just goes on YouTube.”

The weekend’s events supported the Motion Picture & Television Fund with Friday’s dedicated to a new project, The American Comedy Fund that will help comics in need. MPTF Foundation chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg said it was natural for the oranization to partner with the BHH as “this is where we do our Oscar party. And the hotel’s been around for 100 years and the fund for 90. We’ve grown up together.”

The centerpiece of Saturday night’s event was a five-song set by Mary J. Blige in the Crystal Ballroom that she started off by saying, “I fell in love with the man I married here. Boom.” It was a strong performance and from the first notes of “One Love” the singer had the crowd on its feet. “She’s like Con Edison,” said Brenda Vaccaro. “She lights the place up.”

Among the guests on hand over the weekend were Doug Herzog, Irwin Winkler, Tom Arnold, Byron Allen, Frances Fisher, Hawk Koch, Joe Torre, Barbara Davis (who once owned the hotel with her late husband, Marvin), Arthur Cohn, Donna Mills, Zach Braff, Kevin McCormick, Scott Berg, the MPTF’s Ken Scherer and Bob Beitcher, plus for one brief moment Saturday almost unseen by anyone, Prince, who came in through the kitchen and was there for Blige’s last song.

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